BYZANTINE ICONOGRAPHIC CANON AND ITS ADAPTATION IN SLAVIC COUNTRIES
In the first centuries of Christianity the Church knew no iconographic rules. Quite to the contrary - the Church adopted a fairly liberal approach to painted images and focused rather on their meaning and symbolism. The character of the first Christians' art was both didactic and polemical against the paganism, which surrounded them. It is believed that the protection of the art of iconography against freedom of artists was necessitated by the occurrence of abuse of the art and - most importantly - the iconoclastic controversy. One may say that the question of control over icons and defense of them brought about subsequent formation of iconographic canon and creation of icon pattern books. The iconographic canon as a set of rules and standards was forming in Byzantium following the iconoclastic controversy to reach completeness in 9th-12th centuries. However, the meaning and significance of the canon cannot be understood by focusing exclusively on Byzantium. It is imperative to consider the iconographic heritage of the Slavic countries both in the Balkans (Slavic Macedonia with centers in Ohrid and Skopje, Bulgaria and Serbia) and in the Rus. In the iconographic art of those countries not only will we find adherence to the canon but also specific adaptation of the canon formed in Byzantine art. The monuments and iconographic art on those territories prove that Byzantine art was not limited by administrative or political borders, and even more so - it must not be interpreted ethnically, that is - it cannot be limited to one specific nation even if the art itself was named after the nation. The iconographic canon formed in the Orthodox Church conveys Eastern Christian vision of the world, the man and the truth about salvation. It guards both the form and the content of an icon. The canon should not be regarded as an external principle, which demands obedience or mere copying of accepted patterns. First and foremost, the canon is an inner principle guarding Orthodoxy and it belongs to the tradition of the Orthodox Church in best sense of the word.
dr Jerzy Tofiluk, prof. ChAT (Chrzescijanska Akademia Teologiczna), ul. Miodowa 17, Warszawa, Poland
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